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Why Should You Exercise?

Updated on March 22, 2010

Why should you bother to exercise and how can you get started?

Getting started with exercise and physical activity

Why should you bother with exercise and how can you get started?

  • Exercise gives you a huge return on your investment. 
  • Only a small amount of exercise each day is needed to get major mind/body benefits. 
  • Activity doesn't necessarily need to be structured or done in a gym.
  • Start slowly - don't try too much at once.

The good news is only a small amount of exercise is needed to get benefits from activity. Thirty minutes a day is enough to produce results. Physical activity is essential for the health and best performance of your heart and many other body organs. It is also great for promoting psychological well-being2. What's more, you don't have to do it all in one 30-minute block.You can break it up into 5, 10 or 15 minute "chunks," whatever fits best with your lifestyle and schedule. 

Moderate activity, such as brisk walking or any activity that makes you slightly breathless, can provide health benefits. This can include climbing the stairs, washing the car, cleaning the house, or playing with the kids.

Tips for getting started

  • Set simple goals. One of the easiest ways is to commit to a certain number of minutes of physical activity each day. Your plan of action will depend on how active you are now. If you've been totally sedentary, you might begin with a 10-minute walk or bike ride before dinner. If that feels okay, gradually add 10 minutes of strength training with small dumbbells while you watch your favorite TV show. Then begin to use lunch or break time for another 10 or 15 minutes of brisk walking. It's that easy!
  • Keep an activity log. In order to track (and give yourself credit for!) your progress, keep a record of your physical activity on a convenient calendar or in a training diary. Jot down what you did and the number of minutes you did it each day, and how you felt before and after. Add up your total at the end of each day and week, and congratulate yourself!
  • Find a partner. It's always easier to exercise with a buddy, so find a friend or colleague who also wants to get fit. If you've agreed to go for a brisk walk together, it will be that much harder to skip it.
  • Join a walking group, exercise class or swimming club. Find an activity that you enjoy (or used to enjoy!) and join a group that meets regularly.
  • Take up a new activity. Consider trying out one that has always appealed to you. This could be anything from Salsa dancing to swimming to yoga.

What not to do

  • Don't do too much too soon. Start your fitness plan gently and gradually build up to longer or more vigorous exercise sessions. If you ask your body to do more than it's ready for, you may get discouraged, or even injured.
  • Don't rush into vigorous exercise without warming up. Spend about five minutes warming up by slowly walking or jogging. Follow this with some active stretches such as arm and shoulder circles, side bends, hip rotations, and knee bends. Also remember to stretch and cool down when you have finished.
  • Don't cut corners when buying equipment - splurge on the "right stuff." You deserve it! Be sure you have the correct clothing, footwear and equipment for the activity you choose.

Exercise safety

Regular activity is beneficial to your health. However, anyone with a health problem (for example, heart disease, diabetes or obesity) should consult a doctor before starting a new fitness program. Men over of 40 and women over 50 who are planning to begin strenuous or vigorous physical activity should also seek medical advice.


  1. HEA and Sports Council. Allied Dunbar National Fitness Survey, 1992
  2. American College of Sports Medicine. Guidelines for exercise testing and prescription (6th Edition), 2000


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